We first heard about this place while drinking next door. Tipplers at food-less bars like to order from here, a good sign. The menu ranges from familiar bar grub--tater tots in various stages of dress, wings, and above-average burgers and sandwiches--all the way up to steaks and crab cakes. Order the impeccably crisp shoestring fries and don't miss $1 tacos on Tuesday nights. They're straight cafeteria-style, but if you can best the current record for tacos eaten in a sitting, you command free tacos until such time as the next gluttonous sap topples you.
Five years ago if someone told us there would be fine dining in Highlandtown, we wouldn't have believed it. But here's Blue Hill, with its waterfall bar, sous vide cooking, and fancy fab desserts, such as chocolate silken pie or meringue-topped peanut butter cup. It's hip but not exclusive, noisy as hell, and ultimately a good night out. And it's on Conkling Street. Will Highlandtown be the new Canton?
Pretty much the place for leveled-up breakfast food in Fells Point. Homemade stuff includes tall, tender biscuits, intensely fruity jam, and very good sausage. The vegetables are fresh, and the bacon is applewood-smoked. There are several types of Benedicts, omelets, and scrambles available; our favorite is the universal, which lives up to its name. Most dishes come with the amazing hash browns. The place is tiny and there's always a wait weekend days, so arrive very early or order to go.
Think a diner is just a diner and that it's not usually worth it to order anything on the menu more elaborate than grilled cheese or a burger? Then a visit to the Broadway Diner is in order, so you can get a taste of what those "specialty" dishes on the menu at most diners ought to taste like. Moussaka, pastichio, and Hungarian goulash are standouts and you don't have to take our word for it: The Food Network's Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives has visited, sampled, and left its seal of approval.
The dining area is the size of a phone booth, the TV blares telenovelas, and silverware is scarce. But oh, the food. You won't find gooey moats of cheddar cheese here, or anything else distorted for the American palate. The tacos are soft corn tortillas topped with meats such as carne asada, chorizo, and tongue. Chewy sautéed nopales (cactus sans spines), grilled green onions, radishes, and homemade salsa come on the side. The tamales are delicious, the huevos rancheros a revelation. Just close your eyes, point at the menu, and enjoy.
One of the larger places on Canton Square, Claddagh has standard bar food, including remarkably good wings, for the drinkers upstairs, as well as more genteel food such as rack of lamb and steaks if you're sitting in the dining area downstairs. There are often good specials for under $15. But the real secret here is its very good brunch, served Saturday and Sunday, and in particular, possibly the best SOS (creamed chip beef) in town. If you go on a weekend, however, be prepared to watch a lot of soccer.
You don't expect to find a delightful mecca for foodies on a quiet Formstone block in Highlandtown. But this Italian grocery/deli/restaurant has been there since 1914, and it's easy to see why. Where else can you shop for Sicilian oregano, bulk fava beans, and butter from Parma, and then sit down to a brick-oven pizza? (Those served focaccia-style, without sauce, are the best.) The subs are enormous and packed with quality ingredients such as fresh mozzarella, sopressata, and whole basil leaves. If you're not squeamish about tentacles, try the tangy seafood salad.
Highlandtown's G&A Restaurant--since 1927--puts those "retro" diners decked in chrome and Elvis photos to shame. The waitresses never fail to call you "sweetie" or "baby" or "hon," and the mint-green counter with spinny stools is a great place to chat with the friendly owner, whose grandfather opened the place. The french fries with gravy and the sliders are no-frills, decent diner food. But G&A is known for its Coney Island hot dogs. Just order a "1 up" for the works: chili, mustard, and onions.
A neighborhood pillar, Henninger's is pretty much food-oriented by design, with a bar area that's dwarfed by a still pretty small dining area. Caesar salad is excellent here, as are fried oysters served on a huge mound of sautéed spinach (with a sauce slightly licorice-y from Pernod). The pan-fried crab cake is excellent, and if there's room at the bar pounce, because it's the only place where you can get the awesome TV-dinner nightly special, which is exactly what it sounds like, except everything is homemade and slightly fancy.
The much-missed gourmet-pizza joint Py has been replaced by Jasa Kabob, which offers very good versions of its namesake dish as well as above average Indian food. Daily specials such as lamb with spinach or chicken curry are less than $8, and that includes vegetable, rice, and salad. Daily vegetarian specials are also offered. The generous kabobs are well seasoned and juicy, and its breads, especially the aloo naan, are very good. Best of all, it delivers, although there seems to be an unwritten minimum order of $15 to do so.
The barbecue is actually smoked on the premises, but the best things we've had here aren't. Located at the eastern edge of Canton Square, JD's has really good burgers with a multitude of toppings. We like adding chili and jalapeno to the bleu cheese and bacon blackened joint. Don't judge. There are good nightly specials, like the aforementioned burger for half price, and discounts on the excellent wings.
Whether you're looking for a table for 10 or a single space at the counter, Jimmy's will get you in, jammed full of about 2,000 calories, and out the door faster than you can say "I'm stuffed." The menu's huge at this refuge of old-school Fells Point, but breakfast is where we find ourselves, mainly, mowing down omelets packed like a rush-hour bus, decadent French toast, or something from the rotating specials board--such as a "breakfast bowl," a massive hash of egg, potato, meat, and cheese. Yep, that sound is your arteries hardening. Still can't hear it? Grab one of Jimmy's' real-deal milkshakes to-go.
The biggest problem at Kali's Mezze isn't the noise level (which is high) or the crowded tables, but what not to order from the embarrassment of Mediterranean riches on offer--tart, sumac-spiced fattoush; oozing, melted Halloumi cheese; broad lima beans in a bath of chunky tomato sauce; shark fritters; and olive-oil-drizzled tuna. Come with a large group to order as many things as possible, but risk fighting over that last bite of imam bayildi.
Very good straight-up bar food, with a few daily specials thrown in for good measure. Burgers here are huge with good char, available with lots of accoutrements. Wings are excellent--big, juicy, tender. We like the regular old Buffalo style the best. Steaks and crab cakes and such are available during dinner as well, but most importantly Kisling's is among the few non-pizza/Chinese/Indian places that actually deliver--a godsend.
Baltimore eating doesn't get healthier than vegan-friendly Liquid Earth, with its menu of prepared-on-the-spot offerings such as the filly cheese phake (tofu, not cow) and raw food offerings like "tacos" made with collard green leaves for shells and filled with nuts and veggies. Smoothie aficionados will appreciate that Liquid Earth's extensive blenderized creations are made from whole-food ingredients, locally and organically sourced and never poured from a bottle or can.
With its expansive menu--everything from oyster shooters to lobster imperial to seafood bouillabaisse to fried shrimp platter--there's a seafood dish for every taste here. There are also a whole slew of entrées for the landlubbers--including the popular "filet four ways." Even though it's rich fare, the treatments here are rather homey--sides include apple sauce and mac 'n' cheese, and the atmosphere is casual. And if you're looking for a good brunch spot in the heart of Canton, Mama's doesn't disappoint.
The Kali's Restaurant Group has the golden touch. It now has four restaurants within a few Fells Point blocks, and they just about all kick serious ass. You know, in a delicious fine-dining kind of way. Meli's focus is on honey, which could sound pretty one-note, but this upscale bistro manages to pair that sweetness with exciting and unexpected flavors to create varied dishes, from lavender honey-glazed salmon to slow-roasted pork cheeks, all with a sense of unfussy opulence.
Mr. Yogato's is one rocket scientist's successful attempt to bridge the seemingly insurmountable dessert-lover's gap between healthiness and deliciousness. With four delectable non-fat flavors of frozen yogurt and a choice of 42 different toppings, the Yogato experience is a joyride for the taste buds, not the triglycerides. Daily contests, a zany game room full of classics such as Candyland, and a spunky staff add a scoop of spontaneity.
This is O'Donnell Square's always hopping, ever-popular Tex-Mex spot. The menu's got the requisite fish tacos, chimichangas, enchiladas, fajitas, and the like, but it's also got some gringo fare as well: meatloaf, filet mignon, New Orleans-style shrimp, baby-back ribs. Like margaritas? You can order them by the hubcap--literally, a hubcap-sized serving, delivered to your table with extra straws so you can share with your friends. The food is filling, and the atmosphere is festive--particularly on weekend nights when the bar gets super busy, crowded, and loud.
Sushi, sunsets, and dining outdoors--Nanami is a rare trifecta. Its Ann Street Wharf location in Fells Point boasts waterfront views of the ramshackle Broadway Pier and the iconic Domino Sugar factory across the Patapsco. Though seating is limited, indoors and out, the possible wait is worth it. Order a sushi boat, asking the chefs to indulge their artistry in whatever way they choose, and the resulting array will be both yummy on the plate and happy on the eyes.
Though the tapas craze has come and gone, Pazo remains a good-time destination. Plus, it's gorgeous. Always order the wood-roasted mushrooms and the hanger steak (though the latter is a "big plate," it can be had as a half order). Any of the empanadas are good, as are the salads. Also, sit at the bar--it's much more lively, and service is faster--or in the lounge area until you're kicked out. There are $5 specials at happy hour.
Things you can count on at Peter's: There will be steak on the blackboard menu, the wine offerings will be eclectic and excellent, the ladies room will be well stocked with various toiletries, and the narrow bar will always, always be crowded. All the more reason to go early when the bar opens at 5 p.m. to snag a table for when it starts serving dinner at 6:30.
When Salt opened in 2006, it was the spot. People just couldn't stop raving about the foie-gras-topped sliders and fries cooked in duck fat. Now that fancy comfort food has flooded the city, Salt has settled in to being a charming neighborhood joint with the kind of food that keeps neighbors very, very happy. And it's still doing lux versions of old favorites like nobody else.
Fronting Broadway Square in Fells Point would seem a prime restaurant location, but the prior fine-dining establishments to dish up deliciousness at this address--Mehek, serving Indian until last year, and before that Nile Café until 2005, with a Mediterranean menu--didn't last. Here's to better fortunes for Sam's Kid, since its Pan-Asian creativity is an overnight sensation. Sushi, small plates, salads (including warm ones, yum!), noodle soups, and "big plates," all done with distinction. Warning: On your first visit, if you opt for the amazing dan dan, you may never order anything else.
Though this welcoming neighborhood tavern lacks an actual kitchen, the Tex-Mex bar food is remarkably good. Tortilla chips are fresh, thin, and crisp (sourced from Tortilleria Sinaloa), and the salsa is fresh and addictive. Quesadillas also sport excellent tortillas and an assload of melty cheese, and burrito fillings are proportioned well, i.e. the meat-to-other-stuff ratio is high. Aforementioned meat is moist and tasty. Monday is chili night.
As the name indicates, Sinaloa is a tortilla bakery--or rather factory, evident as soon as you walk in the bright, compact storefront dominated by the giant tortilla-making machine. So the flaky fresh-made tortillas are indeed marvelous, as are the irresistibly light and crisp house-made tortilla chips. Best of all, however, is when these delicate tortillas are wrapped around some of the most delicious and authentic taco fillings in Baltimore--don't miss the barbacoa, scrumptious beef tongue, or the rich, tender pork carnitas. Non-taco offerings such as tamales and ceviche vary, but are worth trying as well.
The Waterfront Hotel's claims to having been established in 1771 notwithstanding (the building, maybe . . .), it unquestionably boasts some of the best pub grub Baltimore has to offer. The menu handily balances outstanding meat/mac 'n' cheese/potatoes-style fare (don't miss out on the fry bucket) with the demands of more distinguished palates (in particular, its creative salads and assorted preparations of chicken breast). In keeping with a fine (and flagging) Fells Point tradition, it also showcases talented local musicians playing for tips.
812 Park Ave.
Baltimore, MD 21201